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San Francisco Evictions: New Changes Impact Landlords and Tenants

California’s AB 2179 and an amendment to the San Francisco Rent Ordinance means new changes for San Francisco evictions. While the California state rent relief program is now closed for new applications, some California tenants will have a few more months of protection from eviction. However, others may face eviction even if they’re still waiting on rental assistance funds.

AB 2179 Extends Statewide Eviction Moratorium for Unpaid Back Rent

The California legislature passed AB 2179, which extended the eviction moratorium for certain periods of unpaid back rent. The moratorium will now run through the end of June 2022. This is to allow additional time for state funds to be dispersed to all eligible applicants. 

Who Can Be Evicted for Nonpayment of Rent?

It’s important to remember that AB 2179 does not protect all tenants from eviction. To qualify for protection, a tenant must have applied for rental assistance by March 31, 2022, when the state rent relief program closed. But, effective April 1, 2022, landlords can now evict any tenant who does not pay rent going forward, whether it’s due to Covid-19 or not, unless subject to a local eviction moratorium. 

What If a Tenant Is Still Waiting For State Rental Assistance Funds?

Although state rental assistance will help tenants catch up on back rent, tenants must now pay all future rental payments. They must pay their current monthly rent even if they are still waiting on the rental assistance funds from the state. As of April 1, 2022 and going forward, tenants who do not pay their current rent may be subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent.

Can Landlords and Tenants Still Apply for State Rental Assistance?

No. The California rental assistance program ended on March 31, 2022.

Change to San Francisco Rent Ordinance Adds 10 Days to the 3 Day Notice to Cure Before Eviction

Landlords Must Provide 10-Day Warning Period for Tenants Facing Eviction

An amendment to the San Francisco Rent Ordinance requires landlords to give tenants more time before pursuing most types of fault-based evictions. According to the ordinance, San Francisco landlords must provide a tenant a written 10-day warning letter and a 10-day notice to cure before certain evictions. This law has been challenged, as described below. 

Before serving a tenant with the state required 3-day eviction notice for certain evictions, San Francisco landlords must provide a 10-day warning period, giving the tenant an opportunity to correct the problems.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance

The purpose of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance is to provide tenant protections through rent control and eviction control. Under the city ordinance, landlords can only raise the rent by specific percentage each year and can only evict tenants for “just-cause.” All residential units in San Francisco fall under the just-cause eviction protections of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Regardless of the number of units, or the age of the building, tenants cannot be evicted from their rental unit unless the landlord has a just-cause reason.

Reasons for Just Cause Evictions

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance Section 37.9 (A) lists specific situations where a landlord may have just cause to evict a tenant. In San Francisco, a tenant could be evicted for certain violations where the tenant is at fault, or through no fault of their own.

When Does A Tenant’s Violation Become a “Just Cause”?

The law did not state how long a violation must continue before it becomes a “just cause” for eviction. Does a tenant’s conduct create an immediate “just cause”? If the tenant makes an honest mistake, or has the ability to correct the problem, should there be an alternative to eviction?

What are the Changes to the San Francisco Eviction Notice Law?

Before the amendment, the landlord could start the no fault eviction process after three days —if the tenant did not vacate or come up with the money. The amendment gives the tenant more time to correct the violation before facing eviction. 

Ordinance No.18-22 amends Section 37.9 of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance requiring landlords to provide tenants a 10-day warning letter and a notice to cure before they can begin the eviction process.

Exceptions to the New Eviction Notice Rules

San Francisco landlords pursuing eviction due to non-payment of rent and other fault based evictions must follow the 10-day notice rule. However, there are some circumstances where this does not apply. The new law provides for the following exceptions if:

  • The parties previously agreed to a longer notice and cure period under the terms of the lease agreement. 
  • The tenant causes imminent risk of physical harm to persons or property. 
  • Unpaid rental debt is from the period of March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022 due COVID-19. 

Does the New Warning Letter Replace a Formal Eviction Notice?

Before a serving a tenant formal eviction notice, San Francisco landlords must give the tenant a 10-day warning letter to provide an opportunity to cure the violation. Under California Code of Civil Procedure §1161, San Francisco’s newly required warning letter does not replace the formal eviction notice or the requirements of state law. Landlords must provide the “cure” period required by State law in addition to San Francisco’s 10-day warning period.

The San Francisco Rent Board provides a standard form that landlords may be use to  provide the 10-day warning, which is located here. 

Wrongful Eviction

In San Francisco, landlords must be aware of eviction notice laws in order to avoid a violation of renter’s rights. In rent controlled areas, wrongful eviction can occur in a variety of ways. Landlords who illegally force a tenant to move out of a rent-controlled unit, can face costly penalties. They can be found liable for the tenant’s moving costs, the tenant’s increased rent, relocation fees, and even emotional distress. Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, the damages landlords must pay are tripled. We talk more about the Perils of Wrongful Eviction here.

San Francisco Landlords Challenge the 10-Day Notice

The San Francisco Apartment Association and the Small Property Owners of San Francisco have filed a lawsuit, challenging the new law, in San Francisco Apartment Assoc. et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, Superior Court Case No. CPF-22-517718. They contend the longer notice period would have an adverse financial impact, especially on smaller landlords. On the other hand, tenant advocacy groups argue that it will help many tenants who are still waiting on state rental relief funds. The court has issued an Order temporarily staying the 10-day Warning Notice Requirement pending resolution of the case.

Whether youre a landlord or tenant, we can help you properly handle eviction notices in San Francisco.

With all of the recent changes in eviction law, it’s important for landlords to seek proper legal advice before moving forward with eviction proceedings. Likewise, tenants who receive a notice of eviction should also seek legal assistance.

As experienced San Francisco landlord-tenant attorneys, we help both landlords and tenants understand their options related to California housing law. For over 30 years, the team at Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners has successfully resolved landlord-tenant disputes and real estate issues. To schedule a consultation, please call 415-991-6078.

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